A Georgia jury has hit Ford Motor Co. with the biggest monetary verdict in state history — $1.7 billion — involving a wrongful death suit stemming from a 2014 rollover crash that killed a couple.
A Gwinnett County jury ruled in a favor of a lawsuit brought by the children of Voncile Hill, 62, and her husband Melvin Hill, 74, who were killed after a tire blew out on a local highway in 2014 and their 2002 Ford Super Duty F-250 pickup rolled over. The couple was farmers en route to pick up a tractor part, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Ford sold 5.2 million “Super Duty” trucks with weak roofs that would crush people inside during rollovers, the jury determined. The flaw was present in all “Super Duty” models between 1999 and 2016, their lawyer, James E. Butler said.
Attorneys showed evidence at the trial of nearly 80 similar wrecks where people had been killed or injured when the trucks’ roofs crushed them during rollovers.
Ford has refused to say how many similar incidents it is aware of. Nor has the car giant ever issued a recall, Butler said.
The suit also targeted Pep Boys for installing the wrong size tires on the truck, causing the blowout.
The jury awarded more than $24 million to Kim and Adam Hill for their parents’ wrongful deaths and pain and suffering. The jury determined 30% of the damages went against Pep Boys.
The state will receive three-quarters of the punitive damages under Georgia law for product liability cases.